There aren’t that many classic fantasy movies from the 1950s period. But if you dig deep enough you will find a precious treasure in the remarkable Harvey (1950). I have watched this as a child and adult and it never gets tiresome. Originally a play that was created by Mary Chase in 1944 it became a Broadway hit and subsequently an award-winning movie.
An unusual story that is both fun and funny. A movie about friendships and family. There is a 6 foot 3 and half inch rabbit and the most adorable, charming characters. What’s not to like?
Here’s My Card
It’s a pleasant sunny day as Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) strolls out of his house seemingly alone. He meets the postman on his way out who has a letter for him and remarks what a beautiful day it is. Elwood smiles at him and remarks, “Well, every day is a beautiful day.” Elwood reaches into his top pocket and offers him his calling card. The postman says that’s not necessary and leaves. Elwood watches him go with a genial smile on his face and rips the letter up and throws it in the bin. Elwood looks up at something that he can see and we cannot and says, “Come on.”
“This Thing Is Not His Fault!”
Veta (Josephine Hull) and her daughter Myrtle Mae (Victoria Home) have been peeping behind a curtain and waiting for Elwood to leave. They fling off their dressing gowns to reveal that they are dressed up for something. Elwood’s sister Veta has arranged a social gathering at the house to introduce Victoria to society so that she can meet a partner. Relieved that he is out the way they watch Elwood leave for his daily jaunt to the bars in town,
Much to Victoria’s dismay, one of the maids is hurrying herself out the door and not staying to help serve at the party. Freaked out and upset about Elwood introducing his invisible friend to her the maid promptly leaves
Victoria then says she wishes that her uncle would get run over. Veta tells her off exclaiming that Elwood may be peculiar but he is still her baby brother and “This thing is not his fault!” She wants to know whose fault it is and her mother will not say and reminds her that Elwood is not living with them and that they are living with Elwood.
“What Can I Do For You?”
Elwood makes his way to Charlie’s Bar in town with Harvey. Even though we cannot see Harvey we know he is there because Elwood looks up to speak to him and is the ever courteous friend. Crossing the road Elwood ensures that Harvey crosses safely, putting out a re-assuring arm around him. This invites some odd looks from passers-by but Elwood does not appear to notice. On arriving at the bar he also checks with Harvey as to whether he prefers to sit at the bar or in a booth.
When there are scenes focused on Harvey and what he is doing a piece of music plays. I call this Harvey’s music and again, it points to us being made aware that Harvey is there.
On being asked by the barman, “What can I do for you?” Elwood replies with his catchphrase, “What did you have in mind?” He says this throughout the movie adding more charm to his already affable character.
He sits chatting to Mr Meegles (Harry Hines) in the bar. Mr Meegles has been away for 90 days doing a job for the state. We see that the eccentric Mr Dowd is very kind to everyone he meets. Meegles has just read in the paper about Veta’s party that day and Elwood tells him he didn’t know about it. He believes that it must have slipped her mind. However, Harvey informs him that he did indeed know and they make their way back home.
“What On Earth Happened To Elwood Dowd?”
Lunching ladies are sipping drinks and being entertained by a live (very bouncy) singer and Victoria’s social outing party is in full swing. Mrs Chauvenet (Grayce Mills) a well-dressed elderly lady arrives, to which Veta and Victoria are hugely pleased about. Mrs Chauvent is Elwood’s Aunt Ethel and she’s looking for Elwood as she hasn’t seen him for a long time. She proclaims, “Doesn’t he see anyone anymore?” Veta replies, “Oh yes Elwood sees somebody.” Victoria mumbles, “Oh yes he does”
At this point, Elwood comes through the front door and both Aunt Ethel and Elwood are glad to see each other. Elwood is excited to introduce Harvey to Aunt Ethel. Aunt Ethel is bewildered as she looks up and down in the space that is Harvey. Taking her hands within his, Elwood sincerely tells her not to be disturbed by Harvey as he looks at everyone like that and he knows that Harvey likes her.
This is the breaking point for Veta as Aunt Ethel and all the other guests scarper away from the Dowd residence.
As upsetting as it is for Veta she decides to have Elwood committed to Chumley’s Sanatorium. You’ll have already been laughing so far but just you wait, there are so many more laughs to come.
Pooka definition: From old Celtic mythology. A fairy spirit in animal form. Always very large. The Pooka appears here and there, now and then, to this one and that one. A benign but mischievous creature. Very fond of rum pots and crackpots.
There is a reason why this story has been re-made and re-watched many times. It is a delightfully endearing story and you will fall in love with all the characters. Josephine Hall is a case in point, she won the much deserved Acadamey Award For Best Supporting Actress. Managing to believe and not believe in the 6 foot 3.5 inch invisible rabbit at the same time is truly a magnificent acting accomplishment.
It is WONDER filled and with a WONDER FULL ending. So stop WONDERING about whether to watch this classic fantasy movie and press play.
Write a comment below. What did I have in mind?
Well, if you saw it already, are you a Harvey fan?
And if you didn’t will you check out Elwood’s Pooka?